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Definition and Components of Social Case Work
Social Case Work is one of the basic methods of Social Work which is primarily related with the psychosocial problems of individuals. It involves the study of individual problem in total setting and undertakes a very careful observation of the individual and his/her problem. Friedlander defines Social Case Work “as a method which helps by counselling the individual client to effect better social relationships and a social adjustment that makes it possible for him to lead a successful and useful lie”. In the words of Mary Richmond: “Social Case Work is the art if doing different things for and with different people by cooperating with them to achieve at one and the same time their own and society’s betterment”.
Whereas H. H. Perlman defines Social Case Work “as a process used by certain human welfare agencies to help individual to cope more effectively with their problems in social functioning”. She adds that the nucleus of the case work event is this: A person with a problem comes to a place where a professional representative helps him by a given process.
Components of Social Case Work: Social Case Work process consists of following important components: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Person Problem Place (Agency) Process Professional Representative
1) Person: The person or client is an individual under stress. Because of the forces beyond his/her conscious control, he/she is unable to make a personally or socially satisfactory adjustment to the existing situation. However, to study a person the following points should be kept in mind: a) A case worker does not have to take a complete history, the nature of the problem and the agency will determine the nature and extent of knowledge. b) A person’s behaviour has meaning and purpose. A case worker must understand the client’s behavior and reactions to gain insight into his/her problem.
Cont’ c) A person’s behavior depends upon his/her personality structure so a case worker must need to understand his/her personality. d) A person with a problem is under double stress: the threat or actual attack of the problem and his/her mental reaction to the problem. Often a potential problem is worse than the real problem. e) A persona at any stage of his/her life is not merely “a product of nature and nurture”. He/she therefore should be understood with reference to his/her bio-psycho -social background.
2) Problem: The problem may be unmet needs – economic, medical, educational, recreational or it may be a stress – psychological, social or physical. The problems affect, singly or in combination, the client’s social functioning. So it is important to understand the different aspects of a problem. a) The multifaceted and dynamic nature of the client’s problem requires selection by the case worker and client of some part of it as the unit of work. Selection of the problem depends upon: i) What the client wants and needs? ii) What the case worker’s professional judgment indicates as possible and desirable solutions? iii) What the agency is for and can offer? b) The problem in any part of a person’s life tends to create a “chain reaction”. It is vital to understand which one is the cause or the effect. c) A problem which a person encounters has both an objective and subjective significance, and they not only co-exist, but one may be the cause of the other.
3) Place/Agency: A social agency is an organized institution for expressing the will of a society or of some group in that society for the welfare of its people. (i) Classification of social welfare agency by different criteria: (a) Private or Public Agency (b) Primary or Secondary Agency (c) Local, Provincial or National Agency (d) Closed or Open Agency (ii) Each social welfare agency develops its programs by which a particular area of social needs are served. The effectiveness of service will de[pend on the resources of the agency, competence of its staff and support of the community. (iii) The case worker is employed by the agency, the range and nature of his function being defined and limited by the agency.
4) Process: Social Case Work is a process in which individual client is treated as a total unit. His/her internal and external forces are mobilized in such a manner so that he/she may solve his/her problem. As a method, social case work gives much emphasis on environmental reorganization and thereby attempts to bring about a change in client’s attitude and behavior. It is based on following assumptions: i) Case work involves a professional relationship between the worker and the client. ii) Every problem is not psychological in nature. iii) Perfect adjustment between an individual and his/her environment is hardly possible. iv) Basic to theory and practice of social case work is the belief that the client him/herself must be responsible for developing insight into his/her problems. v) In social case work no room is given for creating the feelings of dependency and inferiority on the part of the client. Rather his/her energy and capacity are diverted towards the solution of his/her problem.
5) Professional Representative: In social work, a caseworker is a social worker who is employed by a government agency, nonprofit organization, or another group to take on the cases of individuals and provide them with advocacy, information and solutions. However, while working in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, residential centers and health care facilities, caseworker duties include client outreach, support, referrals and follow up. Although caseworker job descriptions vary according to the setting, the role and responsibilities of the case worker entails helping people in difficult situations achieve their goals for a better life.
Reference: Khalid, M. (2008). Social Work Theory and Practice: with special reference to Pakistan. 5 th ed). Kifayat Academy, Lahore